Title: What is the 'Campaign Against Civil Unions?' Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 25th November 2004 - 12:00pm1101337200 Article: 497 Rights
The Wanganui Reformed Church of New Zealand's Rev. Garnet Milne is the ringleader of the so-called Campaign Against Civil Unions. I must say, this took my Manawatu LGBT friends by surprise. There hasn't been much sign of local anti-CUB activism in that part of the country, despite Palmerston North's infestation of fundamentalists. Still, what do we know about the Reformed Church of New Zealand? It was established by right-wing Dutch immigrants to New Zealand during the fifties, who were dissatisfied at the comparative liberalism of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, before the ridiculous heresy trial that beset Lloyd Geering, and the foundation of the obnoxious and misnamed "Affirm" Presbyterian fundamentalist group, which opposes lesbian and gay ordination within that denomination. The Reformed Church remained an insular bunch, until some of their New Zealand converts got a whiff of an extremist philosophy at Geelong's Reformed Theological Seminary. Greg Bahnsen, a theonomist, had a substantial influence over several ordinands studying at that institution during the early eighties, who returned to New Zealand, and rabble-rousing. Christian Reconstruction (or "theonomy") is the title of this creed, and it condones religious dictatorship. Despite disavowals, that theocratic republican dictatorship is based on Calvin's Geneva in the seventeenth century, which executed any witches, gay men or non-Calvinists that it got its bloody hands upon. Michael Servetus, a Unitarian physician, was one such figure, who pioneered cardiovascular research, before Calvin's dictatorship burnt him at the stake. It believes that male homosexuality and lesbianism should be capital offenses, never mind the questionable historical and theological provenance of the scotch-taped concept known as "sodomy" and whether or not it is equivalent to modern LGB social identities. Greg Bahnsen was one such proponent. In the mid-eighties, Richard Flinn proved one particularly controversial turbulent priest. He dominated his North Shore Reformed Church, and was responsible for many theonomist institutions, publications and front groups, such as Geneva Books, the Isachaarian Report, New Zealand Alert, and Women of the Reformed Church. Flinn was a notorious advocate of capital punishment for homosexuality during the homosexual law reform debate of the same period. In the late eighties, he abruptly left the sect. In 1989, the Reformed Church's General Synod received a report on theonomy. Significantly, it neither approved nor condemned this theological trend, but it fell into quiescence until recently. However, this renewed theonomic trend centred on a tiny handful of Reformed Church habituee tertiary students, and has recently faded out. Is Campaign Against Civil Unions a theonomic front group? There is no evidence to suggest that. Does it have Christian Reconstructionist/ theonomist members? Much depends on whether or not the Reformed Church still has pockets of theonomists remaining within its ranks. However, it is a small sect, and numbers less than three thousand adherents. It is anti-Pentecostal, which puts it at odds with the likes of Destiny Church, which emphasises that expression of fundamentalist Christianity. The Reformed Church used to dominate the Christian Heritage Party, and former leader Graham Capill used to be one of its ministers, until told he had to relinquish either his ministry or his political leadership. Who is Garnet Milne? Possibly, he's the same fellow as Gary Milne, in which case he was Christian Heritage Party electoral candidate for Yaldhurst back in 1990, who went on to edit Faith in Focus, the Reformed Church bimonthly magazine, for most of the nineties. It is significant that Milne is doing this off his own bat, if this is indeed that person. The Reformed Church was nicknamed "the CHP at prayer" by some watchdogs during the eighties and nineties due to its domination of New Zealand's first fundamentalist political party. Does he have much support outside Wanganui? And hasn't he left it rather late to do anything about the passage of the Civil Union Bill pending its second and third readings? Given the history of New Zealand antigay-specific organisations, I think we can expect this to be another flash in the pan, shortly before the lights go out. Craig Young - 25th November 2004    
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